Tamtex's 1989 Sichuan II
From what I can tell, Sichuan II seems to be based on the Japanese game of mah jong solitaire. But Sichuan II seems to operate by a slightly streamlined set of rules aimed at emptying your pockets of yen in as short a time as possible. I say "seems to" because much of the game is presented in Japanese with just enough english to get you through the basic game options. But with a little patience you can learn enough of the game's rules to play and realize there's some addictive gamplay at the core of Sichuan II.

The object of the game is to clear all the tiles off the board by matching similarly designed tiles. Some tiles are identical while other tiles look different but are similarly themed. This provides extra eye-candy and extra challenge. To clear tiles from the board they must touch in no more than 3 "slides" per move. Tiles can slide up, down, left & right but cannot slide diagonally or through other tiles.

Missing Ingredient
Clearly Sichuan II was never designed for a Western audience. So it's hard to say whether anything is missing from it's gameplay. But with a few cosmetic modifications this game could easily fit along side other puzzle classics like Tetris, Columns or Klax.

If the tiles featured a more universal set of symbols or images it may be a little less intimidating to the average gamer. When I played it I found I needed to come up with my own definitions of each character to help me quickly identify each tile. Also the big payoff you earn once a board is cleared of all tiles is you get to see a Japanese school girl shed another layer of clothing. To make this game appeal to a larger audience than just drunken Japanese businessmen, this payoff would almost certainly need to be adjusted as well.

Sichuan II: part puzzle game, part strategy game, part Japanese cultural experience. Go ahead and give it a try. If you can figure it out well enough to play through once, I'll bet you play it twice!

Thanks to Jeffrey Carl at ServInt for providing the space for CinemArcade


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